Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

of merit and independence, has always something in it of grand and impressive. But the swagger of a soldier, which it costs him an inceffant effort to support, is better calculated, in a discerning spectator, to produce laughter, than to excite

awe.

The sailor, if he is to come into the list of professions, so far as his character is warlike, falls under the same objections as the soldier, with this. aggravation of the nature of his pursuits, that they usurp an element which, by itself, man is scarcely able to subdue, and compound a scene still more infernal, than that of a battle to be decided by land.

Where the sailor is not a military character, he is frequently a mercantile one, and the merits of mercantile pursuits have already been estimated,

But he labours under one disadvantage peculiar to himself. He passes his existence in a state of banilhment from his species. The man who is sentenced to reside in New Holland or Siberia, may improve his faculties, and unfold his affections. Not so the man who passes his life in a coop, like a fowl set apart to be fatted. Men, accustomed to speculate upon the varieties of human nature, can have no conception, previous to the experiment, of the ignorance of a 6

sailor.

sailor. Of the concerns of men, their pursuits, their passions, all that agitates their mind and engroffes their attention, he is almost as uninformed, as an inhabitant of the remotest planet. Those expansive affections, that open the human soul, and cause one man to identify himself with the pleasure and pains of his fellows, are to him like the dialects of Nineveh or Carthage. And what renders the abortiveness of his character the more glaring, he has visited all countries, and has seen none.

He goes on shore for half an hour at a time, and advances half a mile up the province upon which he anchors. If he return in the close of life to his native village, he finds himself unspeakably outfiripped in sagacity and knowledge, by the poor peasant, whose reinotest researches have never led him further, than to a country-wake or a neighbouring fair.

It is to be remembered that, through this wholc disquisition, we have been examining different professions and employments, under the notion of their being objects for the contemplation of a man, who would choose a destination for himself or his child. Our business therefore lay entirely with their general tendency. If there be any extraordinary characters, that have escaped the prevailing contagion it has been our purpose to detect, they have no right to be

offended.

offended. Let not truth however be sacrificed to a wish to conciliate. If a man have escaped, he must be of a character truly extraordinary and memorable. And even such a man will not have passed entirely uncontaminated. He will bear upon him the stamp of his occupation, some remnants of the reigning obliquity, though he shall be fortunate enough to have redeemed them by virtues illustrious and sublime.

Thus then we have successively reviewed the manners of the trader, the lawyer, the physician, and the divine, together with the military and naval professions. We proposed to ascertain which of these avocations a wife man would adopt for a regular employment for himself or his child; and, though the result will be found perhaps to contribute little to the enlightening his choice, but rather to have cast the gloom of strong disapprobation upon all, we inay however console ourselves at least with this reflection, that, while engaged in the enquiry, we have furveyed a confiderable portion of the occupations and characters of men in fociety, and put together materials which may aflift our judgment respecting the economy of human life.

[ocr errors]

ESSAY ESSAY VI.

OF SELF-DENIAL.

[ocr errors]

THE

HE greatest of all human benefits, that at least without which no other benefit can be truly enjoyed, is independence:

He who lives upon the kindness of another; must always have a greater or less portion of a fervile spirit. He has not yet come to feel what man is. He has not yet effayed the muscles of bis mind, and observed the sublimity of his nature. True energy, the self-conscious dignity of the man, who thinks not of himself othcrwife than he ought to think, but enjoys in sober perception the certainty of his faculties, are fentiments to which he is a siranger. He knows not what shall happen tomorrow, for his resources are out of himself. But the man that is not provided for tomorrow, cannot enjoy today. Ile must either have a trembling apprehension of fublunary vicissitude, or he must be indebted for his repose to the lethargy of his soul.

The question relative to the establishment and maintenance of independence, is intiinately con

nected

of merit and independence, has always something in it of grand and impressive. But the swagger of a soldier, which it costs him an incessant effort to support, is better calculated, in a discerning spectator, to produce laughter, than to excite

awe.

The failor, if he is to come into the list of professions, so far as his character is warlike, falls under the same objections as the foldier, with this. aggravation of the nature of his pursuits, that they usurp an element which, by itself, man is scarcely able to subdue, and compound a scene still more infernal, than that of a battle to be decided by land.

Where the sailor is not a military character, he is frequently a mercantile one, and the merits of mercantile pursuits have already been estimated.

But he labours under one disadvantage peculiar to himself. He passes his cxistence in a state of banishment from his species. The man who is sentenced to reside in New Holland or Siberia, may improve his faculties, and unfold his affections. Not so the man who passes his life in a coop, like a fowl set apart to be fatted. Men, accustomed to speculate upon the varieties of human nature, can have no conception, previous to the experiment, of the ignorance of a 6

sailor.

« VorigeDoorgaan »